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Midnight at Mar-a-Lago

j.d. vance donald trump
Rustbelt senator J.D. Vance has a flexible approach to ideology that's a close match for Trump’s own. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
April 11, 2024

Cognizant of the charged politics around abortion, and concerned about the liberal backlash to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, Donald Trump has spent the past several months stress-testing his policy stance on “the a-word,” as he calls it, with his preferred focus group: Mar-a-Lago patrons. In particular, Trump has been polling club members to determine whether any of the vice presidential candidates on his shortlist are considered too extreme on abortion.

Of course, this week’s ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court—dusting off the state’s Civil War-era abortion ban, which arrived like a neatly wrapped, political gift to the Biden campaign—has only made Trump’s veep decision thornier. Hours before the ruling, Trump announced that abortion rights should be left to the states, infuriating some of his supporters. But Trump appears adamant that the Arizona court went too far. Indeed, a source close to Trump told me that since landing on the states rights position, he has explicitly changed his V.P. calculus, removing from his shortlist governors from states without exceptions for abortion in cases of rape or incest, or any state with a so-called “heartbeat bill” before 10 weeks.